The Department of Education (ED) on Wednesday published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for an overhaul of federal accreditation regulations. A negotiated rulemaking committee convened earlier this year to discuss these and other federal regulatory changes reached consensus on a slew of issues in April. The proposed rule from ED reflects those conversations and consensus.
The accreditation NPRM is the first of several expected to be published in the coming months. Unlike previous negotiated rulemaking committees, the group convened to discuss accreditation, state authorization, distance education, faith-based entities, and the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant program separated their discussions and their votes into three “buckets” of issues.
Because the group reached consensus on all issues, ED will publish the agreed upon regulatory language in one or more NPRMs for public comment. The public has 30 days to submit comment on the NPRM, and any final rules resulting from the NPRM must be published by Nov. 1, 2019 to be effective on July 1, 2020.
"Reaching consensus on accreditation reform shows that, despite the naysayers, we can work together to rethink higher education, protect students through meaningful accountability, support innovative and diverse educational options, and allow colleges and universities to be more responsive to students' educational needs and career aspirations," said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in a statement Tuesday. "With these reforms, our nation's colleges and universities can spend more time and effort on serving students and less time, energy, and money focused on bureaucratic compliance. At the Department, we will ensure that accreditation demonstrates a college or university is effectively serving students in accordance with its unique mission, including religious mission, rather than that it has simply filled out enough paperwork."
During negotiations, the committee struggled with changing accreditation regulations in a way that would allow for more flexibility and innovation within higher education while maintaining guardrails to protect student and taxpayer dollars.
Stay tuned to Today’s News for a full analysis of the proposed rule, as well as any public comment submitted.
Publication Date: 6/12/2019